Plans continue to take shape for Community Choice. Thirteen municipalities have each executed an agreement to state their intent to offer Community Choice to their businesses and residents.
The governing body, the San Joaquin Valley Power Authority (Authority) includes Kings and Tulare counties, along with the cities of Clovis, Corcoran, Dinuba, Hanford, Kerman, Kingsburg, Lemoore, Parlier, Reedley, Sanger and Selma. The city of Fresno, one of the original members, decided in a 4-3 vote by their council not to participate in the program. As a result, they are no longer a member of the Authority board.
With the final members in place, the Authority board submitted a revised implementation plan to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in August. The CPUC responded in early September that the revised plan meets the requirements of the law. The CPUC had previously certified the original plan in April. The revised plan reflects the change in membership and provides for a new start date of February 2008. The previous start date was November of this year.
The next step is to finalize two agreements. The first agreement is between the Kings River Conservation District (KRCD) and Citigroup, who will be purchasing energy for the program. The second agreement is between KRCD and the Authority. This agreement will define the terms of KRCD’s role as the Authority’s power service provider.
Under the present schedule, approximately 200,000 customers will be phased in during 2008.
- Phase 1 – municipalities of the Authority, February 2008
- Phase 2 – large commercial businesses, May 2008
- Phase 3 – medium commercial businesses, August 2008
- Phase 4 – residential, small business, and agricultural users, November 2008
Participation in Community Choice is voluntary. As provided by law, all customers will be automatically enrolled in the program unless they affirmatively elect to opt out. All current Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) customers within the Authority’s service area will receive information describing the program and will have multiple opportunities through notices in the mail to express their desire to remain with PG&E or SCE.
Cities, Counties and KRCD Bring Local Perspective to Developing Power Plants
Kings River Conservation District and the San Joaquin Valley Power Authority have reaffirmed their commitment to constructing local renewable power plants and improving air quality as they develop resources for the Community Choice program. Both boards recently passed resolutions stating their intent to develop air quality measures and strategies for any future power plants that will result in a net improvement in air quality. This is in response to concerns that have been expressed over the proposed Community Power Plant, a natural gas-fired plant that would be a power source for the program.
KRCD, which is finalizing the application for the plant, will use the most advanced air emissions control systems available. This design will result in a project that is one of the lowest emitting power generating facilities in California. In addition, KRCD has chosen to voluntarily procure new emission reduction credits from the local area. KRCD is currently negotiating with a local company to develop changes in technology that will reduce emissions from that source. This will create many of the emission credits needed for the Community Power Plant.
Emission reduction credits are a market-based, air quality management tool used by air districts throughout the state to encourage businesses to proactively reduce air pollution at their facilities and improve regional air quality. Companies that reduce air pollution beyond the required level can bank the extra cutback as emission credits. These credits can be sold through public exchanges to other facilities throughout the region, such as the Community Power Plant, that are required to provide emission offsets for their operations. The air district requires a ratio of 1.3 to 1.5 times the amount of emissions proposed from a new facility, which results in an overall reduction in regional emissions and a net air quality benefit.
While credits may be purchased from anywhere in the San Joaquin Valley's air basin from Tracy to Bakersfield, KRCD is committed to developing new, local emission credits rather than purchasing basin-wide, banked ones.
These voluntary air quality strategies that KRCD is developing for the Community Power Plant are not common practice for merchant developers or investor-owned utilities, like PG&E. As a local resource management agency, KRCD is committed to finding solutions that protect the water, power and environmental resources of this region.
Another Summer with Tight Energy Supplies
Once again, California finds itself in a tight squeeze for electricity. For three days at the end of August, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) issued alerts and urged Californians to conserve energy and reduce demand on the system. Due to high temperatures and the subsequent energy usage, the ISO had to dip into reserves triggering a Stage One electrical emergency on August 29.
PG&E has requested that KRCD’s gas-fired Malaga Peaking Plant provide voltage support in order to maintain a desirable power factor during the peak summer months. If this region had sufficient energy supplies, voltage support would not be required.
Development of new energy supplies in the state and in the central San Joaquin Valley is not keeping pace with increasing demand as the population continues to grow. As a generation-deficient area, the Greater Fresno Area, as defined by the 6-county area comprised of Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties, either needs to construct additional power plants or continue to rely heavily on imports through an increasingly constrained transmission system.